Our Ancestors Could Walk and Climb Trees Like Apes, 7 Million Years Ago

Source: F. Guy/PALEVOPRIM/Univ. of Poitiers, CNRS

According to a study of approximately 7 million-year-old bones, our earliest known ancestors could climb trees like an ape while walking on two legs. As shocking as that could be, it’s not the only thing that’ll have this impact on you.

A team of researchers started by examining some fossils discovered in the deserts of Chad, central Africa.

Read out below to discover all the facts.

Life As We Know It Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

Source: CNRS/AFP

Researchers examined some fossils called Sahelanthropus tchadensis discovered in the Chadian desert 21 years ago. The finding, which pushed back the ancestral line of us by a million years (that’s closer to the split with chimpanzees), was described as having “the impact of a little nuclear explosion.” Quite intriguing!

Study insights

The answer to whether the species walked upright was somehow a mystery. Why so?

First, a team of French researchers claims to have conclusive evidence that Sahelanthropus was, in fact, bipedal! But that’s not all.

On the other hand, some specialists have voiced skepticism, as some do in such great cases, right? They ignited discussion regarding our Sahelanthropus‘ way of existence, even if it belongs to our evolutionary branch. So, everything deepened.

The French researchers, however, continued their work. A thigh bone and two forearm bones discovered at a location in the Toros-Menalla of the Djurab desert in Chad were investigated by our researchers in question.

How did they do that?

The team looked at 23 characteristics of the fossils, which they claim to link to bipedalism and show a closer association for humans than apes.

Franck Guy, a co-author of the recent study, released a statement:

We are pretty confident; […] What we show is that the morphological pattern of the femur is more similar to what we know in humans, including fossil humans than in apes.

The French researchers’ work got also backed up by Prof Fred Spoor, an expert in human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. Prof Spoor stated:

It really looks like being two-legged, being bipedal, is the defining nature of our evolutionary tree.

We’ll get to hear more of this story as researchers worldwide will decide to take their chance and investigate the fossils. So, our ancestors will live once again through the findings we’ll be able to get!

Georgia Nica
Writing was, and still is, my first passion. I love all that cool stuff about science and technology. I'll try my best to bring you the latest news every day.